It’s Stress Awareness Month and we’re working on a series of helpful articles that educate and lend resources for particular stress disorders like PTSD.
Trigger Warning: This article discusses a specific person’s experiences with the mention of mental health issue PTSD as a result of traumatic experience.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health problem that develops after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event. Some events that could cause PTSD include military or police service, sexual assault, abuse, traumatic accidents, and devastating disasters. PTSD is not limited to adults; children are just as susceptible to the lasting effects of traumatic events.
PTSD triggers can cause flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts and actions. Those suffering from PTSD may feel on edge, which causes trouble sleeping. They may also avoid situations or people that remind them of the trauma.
PTSD, though serious, is treatable. Treatment usually involves a combination of therapy and medication. Therapy can help people with PTSD learn how to manage their triggers and symptoms and cope with the trauma. Medication can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
If you think you may have PTSD, it is important to see a doctor or mental health professional. With treatment, most people with PTSD can recover and lead normal lives.
Here are some excellent resources that help both those who suffer from PTSD and their support system.
1. The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole by Arielle Schwartz PhD and Jim Knipe PhD
Acknowledging trauma is hard enough; confronting the demons that caused the trauma by dragging them into the light is even harder, especially for adults trying to overcome their childhood. The Complex PTSD Workbook focuses on uncovering trauma and positively coping with it. It breaks down diagnosing, teaches about therapy, and hones coping skills through an assortment of therapeutic methods.
“It takes tremendous courage to confront childhood trauma. Like searching in the dark for an unknown source of pain, the process of healing can feel daunting, if not terrifying. This book will help you illuminate that darkness and enter a new world of personal freedom.”-Schwartz and Knife, Introduction
2. Belonging: A Relationship-Based Approach for Trauma-Informed Education by Sian Phillips, Deni Melim, and Daniel A. Hughes
While Belonging is geared towards educators, this text is also a helpful resource for foster and adoptive families and families with children who have experienced trauma. This book details the typical responses to triggers and how to help the child cope with symptoms. On top of that, this breaks down the valuable ways to work with children in a more informed and empathic way, whether they are experiencing symptoms or not.
3. Loving Someone with PTSD: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Connecting with Your Partner after Trauma by Aphrodite T. Matsakis PhD
Trauma expert Matsakis outlines skills and strategies for those whose partners have PTSD. She teaches how to recognize signs and symptoms, communicate, and create a healthy environment for both partners. This book does not completely focus on the partner with PTSD; their partner’s mental health is equally as important, and she teaches how to manage their responses.
4. What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce D. Perry
The queen of interviews herself has compiled a collection of confessions, interviews, and stories from those who have experienced PTSD and how they’ve coped and overcome their trauma. Sometimes hearing success stories, no matter the harshness of the truth and circumstances, can help us cope with our own demons. This deeply personal book helps those suffering by switching the narrative from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”
“Through this lens we can build a renewed sense of personal self-worth and ultimately recalibrate our responses to circumstances, situations, and relationships. It is, in other words, the key to reshaping our very lives.”—Oprah Winfrey
5. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
After decades of helping to treat those with PTSD, van der Kolk writes about ways to restructure the brain to heal after trauma. Educating about the ways trauma changes the body and the mind of sufferers, Bessel offers a breakthrough method to regaining your life.
For military families and veterans, click here for additional reading materials, as well as information for treatment centers and ways to help other veterans.
Wounded Warrior Project is dedicated to helping veterans suffering from PTSD.
For toolkits and learning materials for educators, click here.
If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD and need help, call the National Mental Health Hotline at 866-210-1303 for PTSD hotline support.
Read more Stress Awareness Month articles here.